I found this great tutorial video on how to make your own solar heater out of household products. If you already have the materials then its free, but you can buy everything you need for under $30. The creator, Ross, estimates that it will raise the temperature of a 15' x 15' room by a minimum of 10 degrees and which could save you up to $45 a month in heating. Watch the video and then read the tutorial below.
Here's what you need:
2x 20" x 30" Foam Board - You can buy it here for $4.31 each or go to your local hardware or craft store.
About 300 pennies (Ross uses 304) - Start looking in the couch and under the seat of your car for these - $3.04
Flat Black Paint - Ross uses spray paint which you can get at Amazon for $4.99. Or if you want to be more Green, you can use some more environmentally sound paint, like Benjiaman Moore Eco-Spec paint which is a low VOC (Volatile Organic Compounds) latex paint. You can get this at your local hardware store. Many of them like home depot will sell you small sample jars of the paint for $3 and this should be enough to paint the board.
24" x 36" Plexiglass - You can get it here for $15.39 or probably get it cheaper at your local hardware store.
Spray Adhesive - You can get it here for $10.29 or at your local hardware store
Hot Glue Gun - You can get it here for $4.49 or almost anywhere locally
Packing Tape - You can get it here for $2.99 or almost anywhere locally
Utility Knife - You can get it at staples for $5.99 or at the hardware store
Ok, lets get started...
1. Spray the foam board with adhesive and stick your pennies onto it in rows:
2. Paint it black
3. Cut out the side pieces from the second foam board:
4. Glue the sides on with the hot glue gun, then reinforce with packing tape:
5. Cut out the Plexiglas to fit over the top of the box we have created so far.
6. Glue the glass onto the box with the hot glue gun and then reinforce with packing tape:
7. Now once its dry place it in a window (that gets good sun) with the large vent on the top and start soaking up the rays and saving $!
You may wonder... how is this ADDING heat? Isn't the sun already coming in through the window and heating the room? Yes it is, but infrared rays that you can you can feel as heat only accounts for part of the heat we get from the sun. The visible light, when it reaches the earth, is either absorbed or reflected. If it is reflected it dissipates and does not turn into effective heat energy. If it is absorbed, it is converted to heat and re-radiated. This solar heater harnesses the visible light and turns it into heat energy.